On Sunday, June 6, UUCPA’s Welcoming Congregation team met to plan for the coming year. Under the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Welcoming Renewal program, UU churches now take affirmative steps each year to renew themselves as Welcoming Congregations for LGBTQ+ UUs, and UUCPA did so most recently in April 2021.
For 2021–22, we plan to:
- Undertake the baseline steps needed for annual renewal of our Welcoming Congregation status with the UUA. These steps include holding worship services that draw on the LGBTQ+ experience, observing important dates that honor the history and dignity of LGBTQ+ people, convening a well-attended educational event for church members to learn about and organize around LGBTQ+ issues, and supporting a local organization. (Click here to learn more about how we did this last year.)
- Undertake a discernment process to better understand where UUCPA is and isn’t doing a good job of providing a radically-inclusive beloved community, especially for LGBTQ+ people. In the Fall, some of us will get trained in a technique called Appreciative Inquiry, led by Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern. Then we’ll begin reaching out to church members and (possibly) small groups to conduct interviews, in the hope of bettering understanding people’s needs and experiences of welcome.
- Identify and offer educational programs to strengthen our congregation’s welcome of LGBTQ+ people and others, guided by what we learn through our discernment process. After all, genuine welcome isn’t just about making space at the table for all: it’s about being transformed by each other.
- Encourage immediate actions where needed and possible. For example, the Board of Trustees recently approved conversion of UUCPA’s Main Hall restrooms into all-gender family restrooms. We’ll also revamp UUCPA’s Welcoming Congregation webpage.
In addition, we’re exploring how the work and the tools of Welcoming can inform other important initiatives at UUCPA, on behalf of a more thoroughly inclusive community for all. In particular, we’re exploring how Welcoming dovetails with our church’s consideration this year of the proposed 8th UU Principle, which calls for:
. . . journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.
You can take part in UUCPA’s Welcoming journey this year! For example, you can:
- Help shepherd and document parts of the annual Welcome Renewal process.
- Help Amy with services or observances, such as by suggesting topics or speakers or taking part in a service.
- Help guide our discernment process. For example, you can join us for Amy’s Appreciative Inquiry training and help interview members of our congregation.
- Suggest or teach a class.
- Most importantly, stay curious. “Transforming ourselves, each other, and the world” means keeping our hearts and minds open, listening and learning together, and cherishing our interdependence.